On December 19, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a US$650 million life sciences initiative aimed at creating an industry and research "cluster" in New York state. The life sciences sector, generally defined as encompassing the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies and life systems technologies, will be supported in three main ways by the governor's initiative. The announced life sciences initiative proposes a multifaceted approach to incentivize the growth of the industry in New York state.

The initiative contains three significant financial components. First, recognizing the efforts by other states to poach New York's life sciences research talent, Governor Cuomo's initiative will provide US$250 million in tax incentives for new and existing life sciences companies to expand research and development in the state. New York aims to use the tax incentives to bring additional capital to the life sciences sector from early-stage and angel investors, as well as to bring existing firms to New York to "locate, invent, commercialize and produce" in the state. The US$250 million would consist of (a) an annual US$10 million distribution of Excelsior tax credits to eligible existing life sciences businesses, (b) a 15 percent refundable tax credit to new life sciences businesses for all qualifying new research and development expenditures (with small businesses potentially eligible for a 20 percent credit) and (c) a tax credit to angel investors in the amount of 25 percent of their investment, with a maximum of US$250,000 per investor.

Second, New York would provide US$200 million in state capital grants over a 10-year period, and allocate more than 3.2 million square feet of space and 1,100 acres of developable land, tax-free, to accelerate life sciences innovation in the state. The tax-free space will be located at 45 colleges and universities across the state, including campuses and land in New York City.

Finally, the program will include US$100 million in investment capital for early-stage life sciences initiatives, which will be matched by at least US$100 million from the private sector. This funding will be allocated to early-stage life sciences firms, and will include a new life sciences launch competition modeled on the "43North innovation competition." Pursuant to this effort, the state will host quarterly, 13-week regional life sciences launch competitions, in which firms conducting research and developing emerging technologies would compete for US$25,000 in grant funding. These quarterly competitions would culminate in a competition to take place at an annual statewide Life Sciences Summit, where the quarterly winners will vie for one of five US$100,000 top business launch prizes.

In addition to the financial incentives, Governor Cuomo's initiative includes programs and partnerships to attract researchers to work with New York academic centers and medical schools, including a life sciences internship program, a life sciences researcher recruitment program, entrepreneurial advisory panels and a Life Sciences Advisory Board designed to guide this initiative. Governor Cuomo will more fully unveil the life sciences initiative, including the composition of the new Life Sciences Advisory Board, at his State of the State address in early January 2017.

More details on this initiative, including a regional breakdown of the available innovation space and developable land, can be found in the governor's press release.